Get The Tuck Out!

That is what the National Hockey League told it’s players the other day when they revealed their new uniform guidelines. Players will no longer be permitted to tuck their jersey into their pants. The NHL calls this a safety precaution. I call it ridiculous.

Players must also skate down the ice while holding hands with their teammates. Heaven forbid someone falls on the ice.

Alright, I made that last one up. But the jersey tucking rule is real, unfortunately.

Wayne Gretzky is, and will always be, the best player to ever play hockey. He was known for tucking the right side of his jersey into his pants. It was his “thing”. Children everywhere imitated him. It became a trend across the league. Now, this trend is a two-minute penalty. Thanks NHL, way to add another stupid rule to the rulebook.

The NHL likes to create rules that they think will help the game. I beg to differ.

Seriously, that trapezoid behind the net, which limits where goaltenders can handle the puck, is one of the biggest jokes I have ever seen. When I was a kid in grade three, drawing pictures of hockey rinks as my artwork, I did not draw a trapezoid behind the net. It did not exist back then. Now, kids in grade three, draw hockey rinks with a trapezoid. I can’t help but think it throws off the entire balance of their artwork. What a travesty. Think about the children!

Martin Brodeur made a career off of playing the puck. You took that away from him. You made it so that he could not skate out to the corners and play the puck ever so eloquently. That trapezoid is ridiculous and needs to be removed. Why not just put up “do not pass” signs? Or, better yet, a border patrol officer who asks goaltenders for a passport to enter the corners. The idiotic rules don’t stop there for the NHL, oh no.

If a player puts the puck over the glass in their own end, it’s a two-minute penalty for delay of game. DELAY OF GAME? I think the real “delay of game” occurs when the referee escorts a player to the penalty box and relays the call to the public address announcer. THAT is the real “delay of game.” I don’t play in the NHL, but if I lost a game because a player on my team shot the puck over the glass, by accident, I’d be furious.

Now back to the jersey tucking rule. In baseball, they tuck their uniform into their pants. In basketball, they do the same. In hockey though, let’s let the jersey hang out, all loose, and call a penalty if it isn’t! Yeah, having your shirt tucked in should definitely be illegal and should warrant the same penalty as a slash to a player’s ankles. Jersey tucking – reckless behaviour, I tell ya…

Alex Ovechkin is well known for his uniform quirks – his tinted visor, neon skate laces, and full jersey tucked into his pants. He is not happy with the rule change, and I can understand. That is how he has played for almost his entire life. That is how he has been successful. Now, he has to change? I saw a preseason highlight yesterday of him with his jersey untucked. It looked wrong. It wasn’t the Ovechkin that I, or many fans, know.

I understand that uniforms in sports are important. I understand that the name on the front is more important than the name on the back. I hate that cliche, by the way. Maybe the NHL can ban anyone from ever saying it again? I hate that cliche because you will not find one player who will say that he is more important than the team, no matter how cocky they are. So then, the whole “name on the front is more important than the name on the back” becomes a very obvious and generic statement. What are you going to tell me next? “I need oxygen and food to live.” Yeah, great. Thanks for the insight.

Man, I’m in a foul mood tonight.

When I played intramurals in University, my team had our own team shirts. They were pretty cool. I always tucked mine into my shorts. It was never the same side all the time, it was wherever it felt comfortable. If it were untucked, I felt like it got in the way of me doing what I had to do. Sounds weird, but it’s true.

When it comes to hockey, I think players should be able to do whatever they want with their jersey. Tucked, or untucked. Let them decide. The best player ever born tucked his jersey in, and rarely got hurt. Don’t try and tell me that this is a safety precaution. Stop creating rules for the sake of putting ink to paper.

A couple of other things worry me about this new rule. The first one being, what happens when a player’s jersey is tucked in by accident? I know that a warning will be issued for the first offence, and a penalty for the second offence – but it’s an accident. I guess you can argue that sometimes a tripping penalty is an accident. Sure, it can be. But that infraction impedes an opponent’s progress. A jersey getting accidentally tucked into your pants is what? A wardrobe malfunction? I don’t know, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I’d hate to see games decided on a power play, awarded because of a uniform infraction.

My other concern is that this might be the first step in NHL teams placing advertisements on their jersey. What better place to put a nice, rectangular, advertisement than at the bottom of a player’s uniform on the back? It’s like a license plate for people – except you become a walking billboard. Just the thought of advertisements on NHL uniforms makes my eye twitch. This isn’t soccer. This isn’t the European basketball league. This is the NHL. If you have a problem with the amount of money that the league is generating, then start by relocating Phoenix and Florida and relieve their 37 fans of their dust collecting, empty arenas. Keep the advertisements off the uniforms and keep your hands out of other people’s wallets. Keep some integrity in the game. The NHL has done a great job at getting rid of the “fun” aspect. Sports are supposed to be fun. Yes, it’s a business. I know that better than a lot of people. But, for once, forget about the money and keep team uniforms special and sacred.

At the end of the day, the NHL will do what it wants. Because they can. I’ll still watch hockey. It’s my second religion. However, I miss how the league was when I was growing up. There was more focus on the game and less focus on rules, advertisements, and panels full of analysts who do nothing, but tell me what I saw with my own two eyes.

Let players wear their jersey, how they please, and back off a little bit. Let the game breathe. It’s being smothered by a pillow of new rules that take away from the tradition of the game.

On the bright side, at least there isn’t a lockout this year!

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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One Response to Get The Tuck Out!

  1. Pingback: Carolina Hurricanes Alex Semin first NHLer to suffer from the new Tuck Rule | canada.com

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